Clean Energy in California

San Francisco (Tues., 3/10/09) – P&E Visit
by -- March 10th, 2009

Tuesday, March 10th, began with a presentation by the utilities company, PG&E, led by Duke alum, Chris Benjamin. With an array of speakers and topics, PG&E was well-prepared for our visit and also treated us to a catered lunch (yum!)

Robert Marcial, Supervisor of the Pacific Energy Center, detailed for us the degree to which sunlight exposure in a building is affected by its architecture and geography.   We viewed a heliodon, i.e.  a model building on a pivoting axis, as a means to recognizing the impact that the physical position of a structure exercises on the quantity and location of sunlight received inside.  Thereafter we viewed an overcast-sky simulator.  Two clips of his demonstration follow:

Robert concluded by illustrating the difference in lighting effects among different types of light sources.  We viewed two identical side-by-side model rooms lit with different bulbs and were captivated by the difference in mood and appearance based on the lighting source.

The next segment of our visit to PG&E included a discussion of internship and career opportunities at PG&E with Anndee Francisco of recruiting /human resources, as well as a presentation by Desirae Early and Sarah Bresko, who examine customer energy efficiency.  Desirae’s focus is on consulting/services & sales, and Sarah works on the consumer electronics program.  They presented various energy efficiency and environmental policy opportunities.  Both are relatively new to PG&E and are enthusiastic about their projects and the company.

A valuable take-home message from this discussion included the ability to move both vertically and horizontally through PG&E.  Employee morale is enhanced by the wide range of opportunities for switching work assignments among different departments and projects.

The final segment of our PG&E visit comprised four environmental-leadership presentations.  The first was given by Chris Benjamin, who detailed PG&E’s work in environmental policy, including an annual Corporate Responsibility Report.

Next Jennifer Zerwer noted PG&E’s work in external communications, in particular the California solar initiative, which rebates customers who install solar panels on their homes.  Thereafter Mon Yew itemized a variety of emerging clean technology policies and projects, and Ian Foraker concluded these presentations with commentary on the  SmartMeter Program and the SmartGrid.

All students were fully engaged in these presentations, as they covered an array of fields within the environment and clean technology.  Upon our departure, everyone commented on PG&E’s high level of preparation and organization.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and would not hesitate to visit again.

1 Comment

  1. California Solar
    Jul 8, 2009

    California Solar

    I think the California Solar Initiative is a great program, but local municipalities need to go farther to help encourage mass adoption of alternative energy. The City of Berkeley was working on a pretty cool solar financing program through their local government, but I’m not sure what ever became of it.

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